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FCW : September 15, 2016
ExecTe c h The software-defined data center is an idea whose time will eventually come. SDDCs virtualize storage, processing and network resources and package them into on-demand units that allow non-IT managers to provision only what they need through a self-service portal. The savings in time and money are obvious. There is no clear path to that desti- nation, but despite that, every federal agency has been directed to get there. Why it matters The White House’s Data Center Opti- mization Initiative (DCOI) memo could not be clearer: Agencies must increase “the use of virtualization to enable pooling of storage, network and compute resources, and dynamic allocation on-demand.” SDDC checks all those boxes. Given that DCOI effectively turns off the funding spigot for any non-compli- ant data center expenditures, invest- ment in SDDC suddenly becomes con- siderably more attractive. DCOI compliance aside, though, SDDC could be cheaper and easier than an agency’s current state. End users can order what they need via a browser and have it provisioned quickly or even immediately. IT man- agers might spend a little more time on capacity management but a lot less time on vendor and other IT service management components. To be clear, the point of data center consolidation in government is to save taxpayers’ money. Whether an agen- cy does that by moving workloads to public, private or hybrid clouds or to a better optimized infrastructure, SDDC enables all of those solutions. The fundamentals With SDDC, computing, storage and network resources are virtualized and bundled together into units that non- techies can understand. They can dial the quantity up or down depending on their needs, which means less hard- ware, software and labor must be pro- cured. And data security protocols are infused throughout the infrastructure. Another benefit that should not get lost in the hype is that on-demand IT provides a context for integrat- ing application development and the delivery of IT operations. According to a Gartner study, SDDC “enables increased levels of automation and flexibility that will underpin busi- ness agility and enable modern IT approaches such as DevOps.” The hurdles However, the Gartner study goes on to say — and these two points are criti- cally important — that IT managers “can’t just buy a ready-made SDDC from a vendor,” and “most organiza- tions are not ready to begin adoption and should proceed with caution.” The fact is that, as of summer 2016, The future of data centers? BY WILLIAM FREEDMAN Proponents say software-defined data centers could be revolutionary, but real-world proof of their effectiveness is hard to find September 15, 2016 FCW.COM 29 SHUTTERSTOCK 0915fcw_029-030.indd 29 8/24/16 12:01 PM
August 30, 2016
September 30, 2016